Sunday Breakfast with the Word Seventh Sunday of Easter Year A
That They May Be One
Reading 1, Acts 1:12-14, First Peter 4:13-16 , John 17:1-11.
One is the only number that cannot be divided by another number. One as a number connotes indivisibility, closeness and unity.
The readings of today, especially the first reading and the gospel centered mainly on the oneness that exists among the apostles, the oneness that exists between Jesus and the Father and Jesus’ prayer that His disciples will be one.
After taking His time to admonish His apostles, Jesus now prays for them in this chapter. His prayer is that they may be one. This underscores the importance of oneness. It also reveals how God is much interested in our togetherness.
That they may be one is like a code for every Christian wherever we are and wherever we gather, that we work, think, pray and join together as one. That they may be one is a prayer that Jesus says today.
Therefore, it should also be our prayer, desire and aim. it should be our desire to always do things together as one.
This is how God wants it. It is what truly defines us as true followers of Jesus. This is what marks us as different from the world. It is obedience to Jesus and the perfect way to eternity.
The issue is that we have preferred to live otherwise. Unity is sometimes underrated and overlooked as a necessary factor that must exist between us.
It must exist between two or more people working together. It is a code for families, and between communities and the Christian faithful.
When we look at what is happening around us and in our different places of sojourn, we wonder if we truly hearken to this prayer of Jesus.
Apostolic Example of Oneness: With One Heart.
The first reading tells us the event that happened after the ascension of Jesus Christ.
What happened immediately after the ascension of Christ in the first reading shows and dictates how united the apostles of Jesus are.
Before ascending into heaven, Jesus tells His disciples “I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49).
After He ascended, the disciples moved with one heart to the upper room. None of them decided to leave. None of them decided to go on a separate schedule.
Jesus admonishes them before His ascension to stay in Jerusalem in prayer until they receive the Holy Spirit. You will discover that they went straight to the upper room immediately after the ascension.
None of them decided to go on a separate errand, not even our Thomas who was not around when Jesus appeared the first time. They obeyed that instruction.
Not even one of them decided to do otherwise. No one thinks he has more appointments than others.
Therefore, they kept the code “that they may be one”. With one heart they remained in prayer. There was no dragging of who to obey or not to obey, who to lead or not to lead.
Psalm 133:1 says “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! Behold how powerful a prayer will be when brothers pray in one accord without hatred.
This type of unity in seeking the face of God makes prayer powerful. Can we today gather together in oneness to seek solutions to problems?
Can families today stay with one heart? Or Can we work with one heart even in our places of work?
Why are hatred and wickedness taking their pounds of flesh on us? Anything done with our hearts will always come to fruition.
The Need to Be One.
1. After taking enough time to admonish, strengthen and prepare His disciples, Jesus now prayed for them.
The prayer of Jesus concludes what I may term the farewell address of Jesus.
After focusing His attention on the disciples, Jesus now looks up to heaven and focuses his attention on God. He offers His prayers for his disciples and for those who truly belong to Him to the eternal Father, that they may be one; one with themselves (John 17:11) and one with God (John 17:21).
2. First, this shows the essence and importance of prayers. Jesus does not end in advising His apostles. After encouraging and advising them, He prays for them.
This is an indication that we always need God in whatever we do. Jesus is teaching us that prayers is very important in our lives. This is also what the apostles did in the first reading. They went into prayer. The scriptures says “Let us always lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven” (Lamentations 3:41)
Prayer becomes very powerful when it comes from united hearts. God says, “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling” (1 Timothy 2:8). Prayer becomes a great force, when it comes from people who gathered together with one heart and intention. In Matthew 18:20 Jesus says “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them”
Therefore, let us not deject the importance of God’s grace. As Jesus is looking up to heaven, Jesus is invariably teaching to always look up to the heavens, to always come to the throne of grace and to always beseech the face of God.
3. Another is that when someone prays for you, it simply shows how much He loves and cares for you. If someone prays that it shall be well with you, it reveals how the person longs that everything is well with you.
The prayer of Jesus “that they may be one simply reveals how Jesus longs that we shall live in unity and oneness. It definitely reveals His desire to see us live as one. There is a need to be one. It is what Jesus wants from His disciples. God desires that we must be one.
In Ephesians 4:4:5, Paul says “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Therefore, to be One is also our vocation, the desire of Jesus Christ and the secret of breakthrough. We must work to be One.
4. Fourthly, for Jesus to take His time and say this long prayer indicates that there must be something very deep about oneness. Jesus knows this and that is why He prayed for it.
Jesus cannot waste His time and be praying for something that would not add value to the life of His disciples. There is something deep about unity and togetherness.
When a task becomes challenging, sometimes you cannot do it alone. You need help, ideas, advice, and prayers from others. There is always a breakthrough when people work as a team.
The Standard of This Oneness.
In the gospel, Jesus sets the standard for this. The standard for this oneness is nothing if not that oneness that exists between the Father and the Son.
This prayer “that they may be one” is often called The High Priestly Prayer for two reasons:
First, Jesus is preparing to offer himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Second, he intercedes for his disciples in the same way that the high priest intercedes for the people of Israel ( Romans 8:34).
Jesus is praying for those who belong to him. You can see or imagine the tears, the thirst, and the anguish in His heart as He says this prayer.
He wants us to live in peace and oneness with another. He wants us to live in peace with God. Jesus does not want any soul to be lost (John 6:39, Matthew 18:14 ).
We seek to be lost when we seek to do our desires more than God’s will. As Jesus takes time today to pray for us, to show how He so much loves us, can we say yes to Him?
We see in the heart of Jesus, someone who wants something good for us.
Can we accept and allow this prayer to work on our heads, in our lives, families, places of work etc or do we continue to allow division, hatred, and wickedness to destroy us?
2. Secondly, As Jesus prays for His apostles today, He is also teaching us the need to always pray and be there for others.
Our prayers should not only be for ourselves. Sometimes, the prayer we say for another person will always come back to us. It is a natural law of cause and effect.
So, we have to ask ourselves “How many times have we prayed for one another? How many times do we wish that something good would happen to the other person?
But many people only rejoice when they see the other person suffering. Where is our calling?
Let us keep the standard. The standard of oneness that exists between The father and Jesus is everlasting, ever-loving, ever one etc.
In the same way, we have to keep loving each other, working with each other and becoming one always without division.
We have to Obey.
In the gospel, while Jesus is praying, Jesus says that He has glorified God on earth by finishing the works that God gave him to do.
The Greek word for “finish” is teleioō, Jesus uttered this word at the time of his death when he said tetelestai, “it is finished”. He glorified God by finishing the work God gave him to do.
This means He honoured God by becoming obedient to the Father. His public ministry and all that happened are simply in obedience to the Father.
Therefore, we have to obey too. The only way we can honour God, the only way we can prove to be true disciples of Jesus is to obey Him.
In John 15: 10-12 He says “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you”.
“By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another (John 13:35)”.
Therefore, when we live in unity, we do not do it to fulfil our own desires, we do it to prove who we are. It is a sign that our worship of God is not pretence, it is a pointer that we are truly disciples of Jesus.
The Reason To Be One.
In many countries and cultures, people are divided by tribalistic, ethinicty, religious lines. Many people today are divided by personal ideas and opinions. Even so many christian families today are divided.
There seem to more division, family discord, lack of understanding, hatred etc among christians today. Therefore, the second reading of today reminds us who we are.
In the second reading, the author of Saint Peter says that if we can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, we have to be glad. The reason is that it is a blessing for you when they insult you for bearing the name of Christ.
The point here is that being a christian, we bear the name of Christ. It is like another name attached to us. Christian means “of Christ” “belonging to Christ” and names indicates an identity.
Therefore, if we truly belong to Jesus or if we are “of Christ”, the Christlikeness in us should be exhibited wherever we are and one of those importance attributes that must not be lacking is the desire for peace and unity. This must also be included in our aspirations wherever we are.
2.Secondly, just like the body is one but have different parts, this is how we are many but one in the body of Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 12:25-26, Paul says ‘so, there should be no division in the body, but that its members should have mutual concern for one another.
Therefore, we do not rejoice when we see others suffering, rather as Saint Paul says in 1 Corinthins 12:25-26, If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it”.
If We truly Know God.
This is another reason we must seek to eliminate any form of dissensions and hatred among us.
We are not supposed to live with discriminations, unhealthy competions and dissensions. In Acts 6: 1-7, when a problem arose among the number of Christians, the apostles of Jesus immediately rose to the occasion and appointed seven deacons to help in the sharing of food.
They do this because they know that such dissension should not be part of their identity.
In the second reading of today, the author says that because we are of Christ, it means that we have the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God resting on us.
If we truly know God as we claim, we will seek peace, love and unity wherever we are and despite our positions, we will use what God blessed us with to create harmony rather than division.
For this to form the major theme of Jesus’ prayers (that they may be one) is an indication of how important unity is in our lives. It is a way to show we truly know God.
2.In the prayer, Jesus included “This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you have sent, Jesus Christ”
Therefore, He prays that we should know God intimately.
This Spiritual intimacy with the Father is nothing but total obedience to the Father’s will and loving fellowship with other Christians.
This shows that our Eternal life begins during our earthly life and continues into the life that we will experience after death.
It involves how you relate with God and how you relate with the other person beside you. These are nothing but keeping the great commandments of Jesus to love God and love another.
The eternal life we seek starts now and hinges on these two commandments.
1. It is so sad that those who should promote peace and unity are those who are the first to destroy it. Every Christian should be an agent of peace and unity. But we are busy struggling for positions, lands, struggling for gains and possessions etc.
It is so disheartening that as Christians we should promote and maintain this intention of the Lord, yet we continue to make matters worse.
It is so unbearable that people who also go to Church every day hardly live in unity.
Many families and Christian communities today have totally lost sight of what it means to be essentially disciples of Christ. There is hardly a family without quarrels, power tussles, land disputes, and different forms of quarrels.
One goes to receive holy communion every day but lives in disunity for more than thirty years or more, where do we go from here?
It is so sad that people who are supposed to work together in harmony and reason together live in brushes, yet we are promoters of the gospels, we are disciples of Jesus, go to church every day. Let us live out our calling.
2. Many Christians today are filled with hatred, jealousy, wickedness, and evil-mindedness. They laugh and rejoice with you, you think they are with you but you never know that they are the architect of your problem.
Jesus invites us to be one.
It is the only way to prove we love Him, the only way to obey Him and the surest way to eternal life.
2b.Just as He prayed for us and His disciples today, let us also spend time and pray for one another and help and encourage one another, just as the apostles today prayed with one accord, let us work with one accord. We have to join forces together to solve our problems rather than fighting each other.
Anyone, any family, church, and community that can truly find this virtue is ultimately blessed.
3.. Sometimes, many of us rejoice when they see others suffering. So, many others pray always to see the other person fall.
The main concern is that the same type of people pray in the name of Jesus. When we plan to pull another person down, we may also affect ourselves. Who knows if the person, will be of good help to you tomorrrow.
We now live in a world where many do not want to see the progress of another person.
We live in a world where another person is suffering while, the other one prays for him or her to fail. Love and unity seem to have gone into extinction. This is a call for us to have a redress. Unity and peace are priceless.
4.As we aspire towards other things, let us also aspire to live in love, understnading, tolerance and unity. Let the husband and wife understand the need to be one always. “That they may be One” should be the code. As it was on the lips of Jesus today, it should also be on our lips daily. “That they may be one” should be our guide.
5.One is indivisible. Whenever we come together as one, we become a great force that will be very hard to crack.
One is the only number that remains in every other number. This is a message that in every number we choose, we must count one first. Therefore, in everyhting that one does, unity, togetherness, team work must not lack.
Seek this in your family,places of work, assignments, tasks, you will experence the wonder, the breakthrough, miracle and success that come from it.
As Jesus prays for others, let us also keep praying, guiding and encouraging one another. This is very important.
May God help us dearest to continually abide in Him. May Your week be blessed. Amen. God bless you